Whybe a Dog Lover - Stay in Feeling
Beau and I have a daily ritual – once in the morning and once when I get home from work. Along with belly rubs, I scratch his ankles as he stretches his back legs as long and straight as he can. I like to call this his signature yoga pose (besides downward facing dog and cobra, of course). I usually lie down next to him on my belly and stretch out myself at the same time. He even inhales and exhales extra long like he’s generating ujjayi breath. I recognize, by watching Beau, that he stays in feeling (all feelings), and therefore connected to his authenticity, and how that allows him to live freely.
I understand that to mean, in human terms,
as being open and vulnerable in the heart.
Recently, after a long day at work, we were stretching it out like normal, when our cat walked by. For a full minute Beau was completely in the experience of his afternoon stretch. The very second the cat walked past us, he was fully in the experience of curiosity. He wanted to know how she smelled, what she was doing, and if she wanted to play with him. Although he disrupted our routine stretch, I couldn’t help but smile at the child-like wonder in his eyes, nose, and even out through the tip of his tail.
Beau operates similarly to how a child operates. Think back to when you were a toddler with emotions that came and went freely. At that time, a child’s ego isn’t big enough yet to report commentary on them. Happy. Sad. Excited. Scared. We felt what we felt openly and vulnerably, without over thinking, over analyzing, or over complicating it all. As we grow, we adapt to social expectations to keep our emotions inside and hold back our natural responses to our experiences. When I’m feeling anxious or sad, my default way of being is to ignore the feeling, and distract my mind with something happy.
I’ve learned that my body will never lie to me, especially when I try to override a feeling with my mind. This shows up a lot in the form of resistance to getting on my mat. When that happens, it’s usually because there’s something else going on in my life that I am trying to push down and ignore. I’ve realized that this resistance stems from knowing that when I step onto my mat, I must confront everything -- there is simply no hiding on my mat.
What I am learning is
that the resistance I feel is my body’s familiar way to keep me safe, a natural instinct.
For example, when I begin to feel overwhelmed at work, the number one thing I want to do after is go home, get in bed, and cover my head under the blankets. As if somehow I can wish away those bad feelings and make them disappear if I simply don't think about them. However, when getting on my mat sounds extra heavy, that’s when I know I need my practice the most. As soon as I take those first few breaths in Child’s Pose, I begin to feel light, as if my yoga mat is extracting and absorbing all of my stresses and anxieties and taking them out of me.
Beau doesn’t struggle with these resistances (or he doesn’t appear to). He genuinely and authentically experiences individual feelings as they come, without having to struggle or fight back.
When I observe him
flowing from one moment to the next, one feeling to another, I am reminded of the lesson he teaches me: stay in feeling.
I don’t have to categorize my feelings as “good” or “bad.” There’s freedom in allowing myself to experience all feelings as they are.
The walls I’ve always held up to protect me from getting hurt, and the barriers I’ve built up as protection from potential evil and bad, used to serve as comfort – a safety net. However, what I’m slowly learning is that when I shelter my heart from the things that may potentially go wrong, I’m also shutting myself off completely from feeling anything good as well. Coming out from behind that shield of protection, I have discovered a deeper connection with myself, and therefore with others as well. In this discovery, I realized that cutting off the access to my self- connection leaves me feeling lonely, lost, numb, and honestly bored. Slowly, I’m learning to open my heart and allow myself to be vulnerable because I know the way to feeling all the good things in my life is to first give my heart the chance to feel everything there is to feel.
I am seeing through Beau’s actions of feeling all his feelings 100%, that I too can open my heart up and feel all things, good and bad.